The situation boiled over after Smith took exception to McGregor removing himself from the United States Anti-Doping Agency testing pool, which means he has no oversight whatsoever when it comes to the substances he’s putting in his body right now.
While McGregor will have to undergo six months of testing after declaring his intention to return to action, Smith reasoned that dropping out in the first place hinted at the Irish superstar using performance-enhancing drugs because he was looking “jacked as s***” in photos and videos posted on social media.
McGregor then fired back at Smith while calling the one-time UFC title challenger an “embarrassment of a man” and telling him “keep my name out of your f****** mouth.”
In response, Smith didn’t get nearly as animated as McGregor but explained that his entire issue didn’t take aim at McGregor as if he was doing something wrong but rather that he operates under a different set of rules than the average athlete in the UFC.
“He made my whole point by having this freakout,” Smith said on the Believe You Me podcast. “He said he had to do it because he wasn’t healing correctly, and the break was so bad that the percentages were really low. I’m not even questioning the reason, I get it. If there’s something out there that can help me heal that I can do legally, I totally would. Because I would heal a lot faster.
“But, it’s not even his reasoning that I’m questioning. What bugs me is guys like Anderson [Silva], and guys like Chris Weidman, and myself, I’ve had lots of bad injuries and we didn’t have the ability to step out the USADA pool, get yourself healed, and then come back with no repercussions. That was my issue.”
Now to be clear, Anderson Silva wasn’t subjected to USADA testing at the time when he broke his leg in 2013 because the UFC hadn’t started the anti-doping program yet but Weidman has remained in the testing program while recovering from his broken leg suffered in 2021.
That said, Smith was adamant that he didn’t call McGregor a cheater but rather just took exception to the way he’s able to exit the UFC’s anti-doping program due to inactivity rather than rules as he understood them to be.
“You said, ‘Technically, he’s not breaking any rules.’ That’s because different rules apply to him,” Smith said. “I don’t have that capability. In the USADA rules, the only way you can get out of the pool is if you’re no longer in a contract with the UFC or you retire. As far as the rules are written, that’s in their rules.
“Is that the rule? I don’t know. That’s how it seems to be. If that was the case, I think a lot more fighters would be taking advantage of that. But also it could be taken advantage of, if that makes sense. Like they could take advantage of the healing properties but also there’s going to be guys that are going to want to game the system. Did he break any rules? No. Because there are no rules. He doesn’t have any rules.”
MMA Fighting did reach out to USADA to seek clarification on the rules for athletes exiting and re-entering the drug testing pool but there was no response at the time of publication.
Regardless of the rule, Smith believes that McGregor showed his hand by lashing out because that alone makes him suspect that he was onto something when he first made his accusations.
“He was pissed,” Smith said. “I called him out, said something about it, it was viewed a lot, media wrote s***** headlines, it triggered him. I think, deep down, Conor still is a fighter. So, I bet, deep down, I bet he gets it. I bet he understands why that’s bothersome for some people. But, is he going to say that? No, never.
“I never once said that Conor McGregor was breaking rules, and I think that was the insinuation, that he was cheating.”